Andy Gregory

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Andy Gregory
Andy Gregory.jpg
Gregory in 2011
Personal information
Full name Andrew Gregory
Nickname Greg
Born (1961-08-10) 10 August 1961 (age 52)
Ince-in-Makerfield, Lancashire, England
Playing information
Height 5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)[1]
Position Scrum-half
Club
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1980–84 Widnes 141 43 24 7 191
1984–86 Warrington 60 11 4 1 53
1986–92 Wigan 182 17 22 6 118
1989 Illawarra 9 3 0 0 12
1992–94 Leeds
1994–95 Salford
Total 392 74 50 14 374
Representative
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1981–92 Great Britain 26 3 0 0 11
1988 Rest Of The World 1 0 0 0 0
Lancashire
Coaching information
Club
Years Team Gms W D L W%
1995–99 Salford
2007 Blackpool
Total 0 0 0 0
Source: Rugby League Project

Andrew "Andy" Gregory (born in Ince-in-Makerfield, Lancashire, England) is an English former rugby league footballer. A Great Britain international representative Halfback, he is an inductee of the Wigan Hall of Fame. He was also the first man to win the Lance Todd Trophy twice, first player to win five Challenge Cup Final winners medals, first player to play in eight Challenge Cup finals, and only player to play in six Ashes series against Australia.

Early life[edit]

Gregory was born in Ince-in-Makerfield, near Wigan and having played junior rugby league in the town for the local Wigan St Patricks side. He also had a trial for Salford (where his father had played) at the age of 17, but was signed by Widnes.

Playing career[edit]

Gregory played for Widnes from 1980 until 1984, towards the end of the famous "Cup Kings" era. In his first season for Widnes, he forced his way into the first team and became a regular fixture from them on. The end of his debut season was capped with a trip to Wembley for his first Challenge Cup Final, against Hull Kingston Rovers. Despite having a tooth removed the night before the game, he finished the game with a try, and almost won the Lance Todd Trophy for man of the match as Widnes won 18-9. Gregory reached the final the following season as Widnes reached the final again, but this time losing to Hull in the final.[2] In total, he played 141 games for Widnes scoring 43 tries, and earning GB caps while at the club.[3]

At the start of the 1984-85 season, Gregory refused to play for Widnes, and held out for a chance to play for his home town team. But Widnes refused the deal, and sold him in a deal between Widnes and Warrington for £75,000 and John Fieldhouse moving the opposite way to Widnes. Before leaving Warrington in 1986, he played 60 games as they won the 1986 Premiership Trophy Final against Halifax.[4][5]

Gregory finally signed for Wigan in 1986 for a reported then world record fee of £130,000.[4] He made an immediate impact as he won the 1987 Player of the Year award,[1] no small achievement as Wigan went on a run of 29 consecutive wins. Also in 1987, he played a big part in the inaugural World Club Challenge win over Australian champions Manly-Warringah and although he was only small in height he dominated games on the field from halfback. In 1988, Gregory also kicked a goal in Wigan's 32-12 Challenge Cup final win over Halifax, winning the Lance Todd Trophy for the first time, a feat he repeated in 1990 as Wigan thumped Warrington 36-14. He was then selected to go on the 1988 Great Britain Lions tour.

Gregory had a successful career at Wigan, playing 182 times for the club and winning awards including the World Club Challenge, five Challenge Cups (the first player to do so), four Championships, two Regal Trophies, two Lancashire Cups, the John Player Trophy, and a Premiership.[6] He also became the first player to appear in eight Challenge Cup finals.

In 1989, Gregory, and Wigan team mate, fullback Steve Hampson, played several months of the 1989 NSWRL season in the Winfield Cup with the battling Illawarra Steelers. Gregory playing a big role in their thrilling 20-22 loss to Brisbane Broncos in the mid-week Panasonic Cup Final played at the Parramatta Stadium in Sydney, winning the man-of-the-match award.[7] It remains Illawarra's only appearance in a cup final.

Andy also played nine league games for Illawarra, scoring tries against Penrith, Gold Coast Seagulls and South Sydney. His first league game was in Round 9 against Manly, and his last was in Round 20 against Eastern Suburbs.[8]

During the 1991–92 Rugby Football League season, Gregory played for defending champions Wigan at scrum half in their 1991 World Club Challenge victory against the visiting Penrith Panthers at the famous Anfield stadium in Liverpool.

Andy was transferred to Leeds in 1992, after feeling he had no option but to leave Wigan when they gave him the terms of his contract extension following his return from the Great Britain Lions tour of Australasia. Gregory had no intention of leaving and wanted to retire as a Wigan player, but the club has been informed by medical staff that he was becoming too injury prone. He was sold for just £15,000. Gregory failed to achieve the same heights at Leeds as he did at Wigan, something not helped by the journey from home and successive injuries,[1] and was then transferred to Salford after two seasons.

Andy joined Salford for the 1994 season for a fee of £10,000, and in 1995 took on a player/coach role, finishing his playing career.

International career[edit]

Andy Gregory made his debut as a substitute in Great Britain's 7-8 loss to France in the friendly at Stadio Pierluigi Penzo, Venice on Saturday 31 July 1982. Gregory went on to win 26 Great Britain caps.[9]

Andy considers the dead rubber third test of the 1988 Ashes series against Australia to be the highlight of his test career. He was named Man of the Match as the British Lions overcame Australia 26-12 at the Sydney Football Stadium.[10] Gregory set up flying winger Martin Offiah for the first try, and fullback Phil Ford for the second. In the second half, it was Gregory again who chipped the ball for Henderson Gill to outpace Australian fullback Garry Jack score. Andy also contributed to the final try as he ran from dummy half escaped his markers and found Mike Gregory for a final 70 metre try under the posts. It was Great Britain's first win against Australia since the 18-14 victory during the second Ashes test of Australia's 1978 Kangaroo tour, played at the Odsal Stadium in Bradford[11]

His peers also recognised Andy Gregory's talent. When former Australian captain Wally Lewis was asked which English player caused him and his team most problems, he replied "A certain little halfback! That little bastard! I admired Andy Gregory as much, if not more, than any other player because of the creativity that he boasted and the determination to cause defeat for Australia. He was also one of the toughest players that I ever played against."[12]

Despite previously announcing his retirement from international rugby league, he received a call to go on the 1992 Great Britain Lions tour of Australasia, where he earned his 26th, and final, test cap in the 22-6 loss to the Mal Meninga led Aussies in the first test of the series.[1] He regretted the decision, as he left the tour injured as he had not recovered from a leg strain that he received at the end of Wigan's season, and it was this injury that prompted the club's desire to sell him.

Gregory is the only player to play in six Ashes series against Australia, playing in the 1982, 1986 and 1990 series played in Britain, and the 1984, 1988 and 1992 series played in Australia.

Coaching career[edit]

Andy Gregory coached Salford from 1995 until 1999. In 1995, Salford were excluded from the top division because of their resistance to a merger with nearby club Oldham, and despite finishing six points clear of the relegation zone. However, Gregory led them to a first place finish in their Centenary Season (although they were not promoted), and first place again in 1996, when they were promoted to the Super League, a moment that Gregory describes as the highlight of his coaching career.[10] Ironically, he coached Salford when they defeated Wigan in the quarter final of the 1996 Challenge Cup competition, ending their 42 match unbeaten cup run.

Salford then went on to finish mid-table in 1997, and the Challenge Cup semi-finals in 1998, losing to eventually winners Sheffield.

Despite the initial success, Gregory left Salford by mutual consent in May 1999.[7]

In 2006 Gregory returned to professional rugby league, as he was appointed as coaching coordinator at National League Club Leigh.[13]

In 2007 Gregory took over struggling National League Two side Blackpool, his first head coach role in eight years. Blackpool had not won for 25 games when he took over,[14] however he was unable to turn things around, and the club finished the season without a win,and Gregory left the club at the end of the season.[15]

In 1996, Gregory also coached the Great Britain Nines side for the twelve nation World Cup in Australia,[16] leading them to the semi-finals before an eventual loss to Western Samoa.[17]

Outside professional rugby league[edit]

Since leaving professional rugby league, Gregory has taken an active role in charity work, including charity evenings to support the Royal British Legion,[18] and fund raising games for the GB All Stars to support the charity Life for a Kid,[19] among others.[20]

In 2000 Gregory's book, Pint Size was published. The book was warmly received by fans, despite some stories that were easily contested, including his description of a Wigan versus Halifax match that actually took place after he had joined Leeds.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Achievements
Preceded by
Joe Lydon
Rugby League Transfer Record
Warrington to Wigan

1987
Succeeded by
Lee Crooks